About Christmas TV History

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Christmas in July 2022: Facts of Life (1987)


Merry Christmas in July! It is Day #3 in the month-long celebration of Christmas entertainment. As announced before, each day this month I will be sharing brief reminisces about Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies with a IT'S A WONDERFUL SUMMER attitude. Yes--this month I'm sharing brief essays about TV adaptations of the 1946 movie "It's a Wonderful Life" along with TV programs with significant references to the movie. Just a little something different and a way for me to show off the diversity of holiday stories I've collected in the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (the updated and expanded 2nd edition being released soon). 

Today's discussion is on the ninth season Christmas episode of the sitcom The Facts of Life entitled "It's a Wonderful Christmas." In this story, Beverly Ann is invited to spend Christmas with her best friend back in her hometown of Appleton but she decides she wants to spend the holiday with her new family in Peekskill. However, the girls all have plans of their own for Christmas and Beverly Ann begins to feel unneeded. In this adaptation of the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life, Santa Claus offers to show Beverly Ann what life would have been like if she had never come to Peekskill. 


The later years cast of The Facts of Life: George Clooney, Nancy McKeon, Mackenzie Astin, Lisa Whelchel, Kim Fields, Cloris Leachman, and Mindy Cohn.

Beverly Ann sees that Pippa would be a punk rock drop-out; Tootie would have broken up with her true love Jeff; Blair would have acted on her investment whims and would be broke; Natalie would be mistaken for a criminal and would be in jail; Andy would still be an orphan; and, Jo would have been killed in a motorcycle accident on the ice. In the end, the girls and the orphans at Jo’s Christmas party gather to sing “Silent Night.”

The cast includes Lisa Whelchel as Blair Warner, Nancy McKeon as Jo Polniaczek, Kim Fields as Tootie Ramsey, Mindy Cohn as Natalie Green, Cloris Leachman as Beverly Ann Stickle, Mackenzie Astin as Andy, Sherrie Krenn as Pippa, and Chuck McCann as Santa Claus. 


Video: Jo, Blair, Tootie, Natalie, Pippa, and Andy react to Beverly Ann's concern for them.


Interestingly, Beverly Ann's guardian angel in this sitcom adaptation is interpreted as Santa Claus. This story becomes even more special when one remembers that Cloris Leachman appears in another TV adaptation of It’s a Wonderful Life--in 1977’s TV movie It Happened One Christmas as the guardian angel Clara Oddbody. See the discussion about that movie again HERE.

This is just one of five holiday episodes on The Facts of Life--got another favorite? Feel free to leave your comments below. Merry Christmas in July!

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for an upcoming release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com


  1. This show was a favorite growing up, and I stuck with through all the changes. Now when I think of it, it epitomizes the 80s. Fun episode, Leachman is always great!

  2. Just a friendly heads-up you have "1992" in the title (which, momentarily, had me questioning everything I thought I knew about Facts of Life. Or maybe, in the spirit of It's A Wonderful Summer, the angels had spirited me into an alternate timeline where the show stuck it out for a few more years!)